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CCPA Chair Dr. Mark McPhail Retires as Division Chair

Inspirational Leader Spent Three Years in Role at Meadows, Will Continue to Teach

Diversity. Faith. Leadership. These three words are implanted in the minds of students in the Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Division of the Meadows School of the Arts. The best way to learn is by example, and for the past three years the CCPA department has learned from the example of our chair, Dr. Mark McPhail, who has taken the division to a new level of competitiveness, professionalism and excellence.

The first word, diversity, describes the classes that are provided to students in the program. Classes ranging in breadth from Dr. McPhail’s “Rhetoric, Community and Public Deliberation,” to Dr. Maria Dixon’s “Ethnicity, Culture and Communication,” and from Dr. Owen Lynch’s “Communication in Organizational Contexts” to Dr. Rita Kirk’s “Public Opinion, The Press and Public Policy,” teach students to think critically about the world and to respect and appreciate differing opinions.

Dr. McPhail exemplifies faith by the belief and confidence he has in his students. It is hard to leave a conversation with Dr. McPhail without a smile because of the supreme encouragement and optimism he provides. Two words that are usually associated with faith are hope and love. Dr. McPhail shows how to have faith in our fellow man, hope for a better future, and love for exactly how and where people are now.
Dr. McPhail also teaches students how to have faith in themselves. Taking one of Dr. McPhail’s classes is not an easy task. However, with Dr. McPhail as a guide, students are given all the tools they need to argue effectively, speak with authority, and rely on themselves to produce greatness through hard work.
Caitlin Sherrill, a graduating senior double majoring in CCPA and Art History, said, “Dr. McPhail is the most passionate, ethical professor I have ever had. He invested a great deal of time and energy encouraging me to achieve my potential. He saw something in me that I didn't see in myself. Because of his teachings, I am a better student, better communicator and a better person.”

Dr. McPhail has been an inspirational leader during his three years as chair. Anyone who has been in one of Dr. McPhail’s classes knows that adequate is not enough. Dr. McPhail promotes excellence both in academics and personal character. His presence is so influential because he demonstrates excellence in his own life. Whether it is painting, photography, poetry, academic writing or karate, Dr. McPhail pursues goals without hesitation and encourages all those around him to have the same enthusiasm towards life.

Dr. McPhail’s leadership has brought significant changes to the CCPA department. A focus on demonstrating excellence and professionalism can be seen in multiple ways: the addition of the Debate and Speech Team, which has won more than 25 speaking awards, competed in more than 100 debate rounds and made it to the final rounds in the fall and spring Texas State Championships; the reactivation of SMU’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, resulting in three national awards for the chapter this year; and close involvement with the relationship between mustangconsulting and The Ugandan-American Partnership Program.

President John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” More than 150 years later, it seems as if President Adams’ words were written to define Mark McPhail. As the division continues to grow, we remember what Dr. McPhail gave us – Diversity, Faith and Leadership.

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